April 15, 2011
I stumbled this morning upon this poem, by Catherynne M. Valente: A Silver Splendour, A Flame. It’s exceptional—part poem, part libretto for an imaginary vaudville show, part retelling of the Persephone myth, part kaleidescope, maybe even a bit of ars poetica, and entirely beautiful. Well worth checking out.
The Zingara Poet has begun a new series of interviews with poets, which will feature discussions with poets a bit more off the beaten path than one normally encounters in textbooks or at, say, Poets.org. The first interview, with Alarie Tennille, can be found here.
Just for the record, Liberty University (a private, conservative Christian institution founded by Jerry Falwell) received more money from the federal government last year than the Corporation for Public Broadcasting did. (Hat tip to Fred Clark.)
What’s with the abuse of figurative speech lately? First Senator Jon Kyl states that 90% of Planned Parenthood’s work is related to abortions (when the figure is actually closer to 3%), and when called on it, his office stated that “his remark was not intended to be a factual statement,” and then, after Kobe Bryant received criticism for calling a referee a “fucking faggot,” he stated that the slur “should not be taken literally.” What bothers me about issues like these is, quite simply, words mean things. “Oh, but that’s not what I meant” does not come across, to me, as a particularly compelling explanation. Even when writing poetry—a form of communication that is not generally assumed to represent factual statements or to be taken literally—if most of the people who hear or read your words take from them a meaning counter (or unrelated) to the one you’d intended, you might want to reconsider your words.
Of course, Jon Kyl’s statement ended up leading to a thoroughly amusing Twitter hashtag, so that’s something.
This article about a young woman growing up Objectivist has been making its way across the interwebs, but I thought I’d link to it as well, just in case my lovely readers haven’t seen it.
Happy Friday, all!
April 9, 2010
This headline just about caused me physical pain: Obama Sasses Palin on Nuclear Policy.
Now, you know and I know that journalists often have no control over their headlines. And indeed, I don’t claim to know much about Newsweek’s “The Gaggle” blog in the first place. And furthermore, I know some folks have gotten awful sensitive when it comes to calling verbal attacks against the President “racist.”
All that said: we’re going to say that the Black dude sassed the white lady? Seriously? Y’all have noticed that he’s the President of the United States, right? Or is he still supposed to “know his place” in spite of that little detail?
[Tip of the oh-so-post-racial tiara to Sadly, No!]
October 16, 2009
I haven’t spoken in this particular venue on the subject of Roman Polanski, largely because others have said what I think so well already. Furthermore, I find myself wondering, partly, what’s left to discuss? A 44-year-old man in a position of power drugged and raped a 13-year-old girl. There was a shitty plea bargain and some legal shenanigans, and the man served a little time, but fled the country to avoid serving any more, and has lived in Europe ever since. The fact remains, though, that he raped a 13-year-old girl, and justice was arguably not served on that point. Now he’s been re-apprehended, and what I’ve simply been dumbfounded by is the pundits and celebrities who want to discuss not whether the re-apprehension itself was shady, not the aforementioned legal shenanigans and/or the problematic nature of plea bargains, not whether California’s limited resources might be better spent on other things—but whether or not what Polanski did was really rape and/or was justifiable.
This week, William Saletan made a foray into the rape apologism surrounding the Polanski case. Now, I know that Saletan has given feminists every reason to ignore what he says outright, but I stumbled upon this round of garbage via a Think Progress e-mail and it incensed me enough that I had to write about it. Read the rest of this entry »
September 30, 2009
A pet peeve of mine is people calling undocumented immigrants “illegals.” It’s dehumanizing. Naturally, then, I appreciated this passage from a recent Crooks and Liars post, which goes into more detail on that point, and makes enough really good points that I wanted to reproduce it here in hopes of contributing just a little bit toward making the discussion a bit more… dare I say civil?… and grounded in reality. The excerpt is fairly long, so I’m putting it below the fold. Read the rest of this entry »
January 1, 2008
I’m getting to the point where I almost fear for the next person who uses the phrase “politically correct” in front of me. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot since November, when it came to light that Santa Clauses in Australia were being told to say “ha ha ha” instead of “ho ho ho,” ostensibly because someone had decided that the latter was degrading to women. This, of course, was like a beautifully wrapped present to Fox News (I’m not linking, but their story comes up first if you do a Google search for ho ho ho), who jumped on the story as an example of political correctness run amok.
Here’s the thing, though: the story wasn’t true. It wasn’t hard to guess at the truth, considering that I’ve never met a single person who thinks Santa is using a slang term for prostitute, but, again, it was exactly the sort of story Fox News et al wanted to hear.
At close to the same time, there was an argument over at Evil Bender’s place about race as a biological category (as opposed to a social contruct), which came about not too long after James Watson’s offensive comments about Africa’s prospects. Those were both situations in which the politically insensitive/incorrect — politically correct binary came into play. People who objected to what James Watson said were characterized as being overly concerned with political correctness, which is to say that we didn’t really disagree with what James Watson said, but just with how he said it, or with the fact that he’d said it at all. As if we progressives are perfectly okay with racist ideas as long as you don’t express them out loud. But of course, I’ve read Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man (and couldn’t recommend it more highly), so the reason I object to what James Watson said was because I disagree, not because I think he should have phrased it in a nicer way.
A section in the Wikipedia entry on political correctness sums up my feelings/suspicions nicely:
Some commentators argue that the term “political correctness” was engineered by American conservatives around 1980 as a way to reframe political arguments in the United States. According to Hutton:
- “Political correctness is one of the brilliant tools that the American Right developed in the mid-1980s as part of its demolition of American liberalism….What the sharpest thinkers on the American Right saw quickly was that by declaring war on the cultural manifestations of liberalism – by levelling the charge of political correctness against its exponents – they could discredit the whole political project.”
Such commentators say that there never was a “Political Correctness movement” in the United States, and that many who use the term are attempting to distract attention from substantive debates over discrimination and unequal treatment based on race, class, and gender (Messer-Davidow 1993, 1994; Schultz 1993; Lauter 1995; Scatamburlo 1998; Glassner 1999). Similarly, Polly Toynbee has argued that “the phrase is an empty rightwing smear designed only to elevate its user”.
November 28, 2007
In case there was any doubt that I am a ginormous nerd, I give you Free Rice, which is essentially a vocabulary quiz, but with a great twist: for every correct answer, the site gives 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Programme — between Evil Bender and me we’re already well into the thousands. Fellow word nerds should go check it out!
September 30, 2007
Much has been said about the uprising in Myanmar/Burma, and as I’m far from being on the cutting edge of international current events, I’ll point anyone who’s curious in the direction of others: Burma Digest; articles from the most recent edition of The Economist; a graphic video over at Crooks and Liars; a roundup from Arlen (a guest poster) over at Shakesville.
I wanted to address the issue of the country’s name, however, as that had been confusing me a bit before today. I’d known before this current conflagration that Myanmar was the name of the country formerly known as Burma; what confused me was the fact that certain bloggers and activist groups (e.g. MoveOn.org) were continuing to call the country Burma. I knew it had to be deliberate, but that made me wonder why.
September 21, 2007
Interesting (to me, anyway) little tidbit from Yahoo — Thousands of hyphens perish as English marches on:
LONDON (Reuters) – About 16,000 words have succumbed to pressures of the Internet age and lost their hyphens in a new edition of the.
Bumble-bee is now bumblebee,is ice cream and pot-belly is pot belly.
And if you’ve got a problem, don’t be such a crybaby (formerly cry-baby).
The hyphen has been squeezed as informal ways of communicating, honed in text messages and emails, spread on Web sites and seep into newspapers and books.
“People are not confident about using hyphens anymore, they’re not really sure what they are for,” said Angus Stevenson, editor of the Shorter OED, the sixth edition of which was published this week.
I have to confess that that last paragraph applies to me. I’m not as well-versed in hyphen placement as I could be, and I’m certainly not confident on the subject.
Another factor in the hyphen’s demise is designers’ distaste for its ungainly horizontal bulk between words.
“Printed writing is very much design-led these days in adverts and Web sites, and people feel that hyphens mess up the look of a nice bit of typography,” he said. “The hyphen is seen as messy looking and old-fashioned.”
I’m trying to figure out if Stevenson is trying to be ironic in that last paragraph, given “design-led” and “old-fashioned.” Either way, it amuses me.
There are lists of the changed words in the linked article, if you’re curious. Or grammar-driven, if you will.
May 21, 2007
The news item floating around about people trying to get the Bible banned in Hong Kong because of its sexual and violent content inspired the Dark Wraith to extract and make “sardonic commentary” on over 100 verses and passages from both the Old and New Testaments. As you can probably imagine, much of what goes on therein doesn’t exactly hold up well under contemporary scrutiny. A sampling:
Genesis 25:1-6 | Keeping mistresses is not adultery.
•• Maybe not, but it might be suicide when your wife finds out, Sparky. ••
Genesis 39:1-23 | The wife of the master wants to ride the “handsome and well-built” but trustworthy slave, he turns her down over and over again, so she says he tried to rape her, yada-yada-yada.
•• This story is so lame it wouldn’t even make it onto the Jerry Springer show these days. ••
Judges 8:30 | Gideon had seventy sons by a whole bunch of wives and (at least) one by a concubine.
•• Gideon had an expensive hobby, that’s what Gideon had (and Gideon could have used a prescription for anti-Viagra, too) ••
And there’s so much more, with links to each of the verses/passages. Read the rest of this entry »